Pope Francis names 13 new cardinals in surprise announcement

Pope Francis on Sunday named 13 new cardinals, including Washington D.C. Archbishop Wilton Gregory, who would become the first Black U.S. prelate to earn the coveted red hat.

In a surprise announcement from his studio window to faithful standing below in St. Peter’s Square, Francis said the churchmen would be elevated to a cardinal’s rank in a ceremony on Nov. 28.

Other new cardinals include an Italian who is the long-time papal preacher at the Vatican, the Rev. Raniero Cantalamessa, a Franciscan friar; the Kigali, Rwanda, Archbishop Antoine Kambanda; the Capiz, Philippines, Archbishop Jose Feurte Advincula, and the Santiago, Chile, Archbishop Celestino Aos.

Another Franciscan who was tapped is Friar Mauro Gambetti, in charge of the Sacred Convent in Assisi. The pope, when elected in 2013, chose St. Francis of Assisi as his namesake saint, and earlier this month, the pontiff journeyed to that hill town in Umbria to sign an encyclical, or important church teaching document, about brotherhood.

In a reflection of the pope’s stress on helping those in need, especially the poor, Francis also named the former director of the Rome Catholic charity, Caritas, the Rev. Enrico Feroci, to be a cardinal.

Wilton was picked by Francis to lead the prestigious diocese in the U.S. capital last year. He served three times as the head of the U.S. Conference of Bishops.

New cardinals under the age of 80 will join fellow cardinals eligible to elect the next pontiff in a secret conclave.

No details were immediately given by the Vatican about the concistory, as the formal ceremony to make the churchmen cardinals is known, especially in view of travel restrictions involving many countries during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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